Last month, while I was in Los Angeles I got into a heated discussion with one of the gurus of acting coaching whose name I won’t mention since suing people is California’s national sport.
I was attending a fabulous class on comedy, thoroughly enjoying myself until the guru in question mentioned Jennifer Aniston as one of the greatest example of comic acting, claiming that if you are a great comedy actor you are a great actor full stop, whilst if you’re good at drama often that’s all you can do.
I lifted a timid hand:
“actually”, I said, “after Friends, in which she was admittedly very funny, Aniston has starred in a series of b movies in which she played Rachel again and again, and hasn’t proved to be anything other than a one track pony, let alone being able to do drama.”
The guru gave me a look full of spite:
“Oh, I really wouldn’t wish it on you to have Jennifer Aniston’s career,” she said with a fake mellifluous smile. “She is a star. She’s a millionaire. Friends is the most repeated series in the world. But I really wouldn’t wish all that on you… Because you would never want to have HER career, wouldn’t you?”
She laughed at the absurdity of the idea, followed by everyone else in the class.
I didn’t bother reply, but actually, well, no, I would never swap with Jennifer Aniston.
I have no desire to be Jennifer Aniston. In my life I fantasised about being many people, from Loretta Goggi to katherine Hepburn, but Jennifer Aniston has never touched my imagination.
Yes, she was married to Brad Pitt, yes she is a millionaire, yes she has perfect straight hair but
A) I’ve never fancied Brad Pitt, he’s a bad copy of Robert Redford and I prefer the original, wrinkles and all.
B) I’m lucky enough never to have considered being a millionaire the greatest goal of my life.
C) I have curly hair.
So no, thank you, i don’t want anyone to wish Jennifer Aniston’s career on me because I have no desire to be a millionaire divorcee who’s appeared in the lamest rom coms of the past ten years.
I’m not in this business for the money. I’m in it for the love of acting, as corny as that sounds. I want to be creative, I want to challenge myself, play different parts, learn every day.
What do you learn when you keep playing Rachel? There are only that many funny faces anyone can come up with.
So WHOSE career would I love?
Well, avoiding the obvious names, ie those rare genius of acting like Meryl Streep and Kate Blanchet that I will never equal, I would go for all round performers like Julianne Moore, Emma Thompson, or, recently, Kristine Scott Thomas.
In fact, I’d go straight away for Scott Thomas. If you fancy wishing me her career, feel free.
She’s not only classy, sexy, educated and very intelligent, the kind of woman I would go out with if I was a man…
She is totally bilingual English-French and lives between two countries, basically like me but much more comfortably.
She alternates cinema and theatre, proving to be good at both. On stage she commands the scene. On screen she is compelling. She can be funny and tragic.
Basically, she isn’t a celebrity, she is an actress.
Because this is the fundamental misunderstanding. We confuse fame and talent.
Scott Thomas gives actresses back their good reputation by proving that we’re not all some superficial, egocentric bimbos whose main concern is anti wrinkle creams.
I hate it that people wonder why I want to be an actress despite having a brain, as if the two things were incompatible, as if acting required no intelligence, just a fit body and perfect teeth.
Scott Thomas, like Emma Thompson, like Jody Foster, show that intelligence does matter. Sure, it doesn’t make you box office winner, but it gives you a career based on talent and on the respect of your peers.
This kind of actress never appears on gossip magazines, has a private life thar is private and is famous just enough to be able to pick and chose her jobs.
For the rest she can walk to the supermarket without having photographers waiting outside her house.
THAT for me is enviable. That, I really wish. That, is a career in acting!!!
Jennifer, you’re sweet. I loved watching Rachel and Ross. And I was on your side when Angelina stole Brad from you. But at my imaginary perfect dinner table you’d be never invited. You’re boring. Your hair is boring. And besides, you’d never eat anything, no egg white omelettes, gluten free pasta and soya milk in my house!!!